Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Vikings and Pilgrims or East Kent Coast Holiday Part Two.

 Tuesday dawned another glorious sunny day so we were down early to have breakfast before taking a stroll down to the harbour as we had a walk planned for the day and Himself wanted to start and end it on a pier. 

We began on the little pier in Broadstairs and walked The Viking Way, which is part of the coastal path, to Margate.

We started down on the beach where a random lobster pot had washed up much to the confusion and excitement of the various dogs being walked. It was a lovely gentle beginning and then we reached this deceptively easy looking path up to the clifftop. 

Trust me it just kept going and going up and up, my lungs felt like they were going to explode by the time we got there.   

Once on the clifftop you walk for a while through a gated community which for a nosy cow like me was great fun, getting to peer at all these huge houses with their landscaped gardens.

Who needs Durdle Door when you have Botany Bay at Kingsgate? 

Apparently it's a great place to find fossils and I really wanted to go down to the beach to hunt for some, but we had timed entry tickets for the Turner Comtemporary in Margate so were against the clock. Maybe next time.

We entered Margate and passed the now sadly quite derelict Lido. The underground music venue at the Lido was where we first meet when I went to see Himself's band playing, and according to Himself, where I picked him up at the bar!

It's so sad to see the state it is in and I hope the campaign to save it is as successful as the one that saved Dreamland, Margate's other historic & famous landmark. Hopefully they will bring it back to life in some way, probably not to the degree of the picture below but hopefully something somehow.


We made it to the end of the pier in Margate with just 5 minutes to spare, but I just had to take a picture of the amazing sculpture of Mrs Booth the artist J M Turner's landlady and mistress.

 I was absolutely roasting in my jacket by the time we hared up the steps and into the gallery. Goodness knows what possessed me to wear one on such a sunny day. 

The gallery was much smaller than I thought it would be so it didn't take long to walk around. I was quite disappointed if I'm honest. Once we were done we headed into the old town to our favourite cafe for a much needed drink. 

Margate really is a town of two halves. The Old Town or Market Place is busy and bustling with shops, galleries and cafes. The beaches look great now the sea walls have been renovated and of course Dreamland's rebirth is a triumph. The high street however is heartbreaking to see now, rundown and pretty much completely empty. 

We mooched about a bit reminiscing before heading to the station to catch a train back to Broadstairs as we had an early dinner booking. 

It turned out they were shooting part of a Sam Mendes film with Colin Firth and Olivia Coleman at Dreamland so it was temporarily renamed The Empire and cordoned off. They have also been filming in Oxford so I will definitely be checking it out when it reaches the cinema.

Once back at our hotel we freshened up and headed out for dinner at Posillipo a gorgeous little family run Italian restaurant, I had the most delicious gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese. From there we nipped to Tesco to buy some beer and wine and as it was now pouring with rain jumped in a cab to visit our friends Paul and Claire. 

In that mad random way life has it turned out our taxi driver was not only born in Abingdon, the nearest town to us, he went to school in the town where we live! 

It was an early visit because Paul was heading to Belfast in the early hours of the morning so we were back at the hotel before 10pm.

Our final day we had decided to visit Canterbury, it's a beautiful city and somewhere we often used to go to for the day when we were dating.  Indeed it was somewhere we considered moving to when we were first looking to move in together.

Again it was very much about revisiting memories as well as seeing what has changed. One of my favourite shops there Merchant Chandler had sadly gone, but another Siesta was still there. We had a lovely browse I bought myself a carved wooden moon wall hanging, a Mexican wooden day of the dead owl ornament and some earrings. Himself bought a bongo drum. I browsed the charity shops and the vintage shop I used to visit but didn't find anything to buy. 

We had planned to go to the cathedral but half of it was closed for renovation and there was a huge queue outside so we decided to give it a miss.

We decided to go for a drink instead and found a great little rock pub called The Lady Luck. Refreshed by a bottle or two of Newcastle Brown we had a look in a few more shops and just wandered about in the glorious sunshine before finding somewhere to eat dinner.

I was so stuffed after eating that instead of finding a pub as he wanted, I made Himself go for a walk along the river.  

I thought this tree was incredible in a mad does my bum look big in this kind of way 

and by chance we found this bull sculpture by the ring road as we headed back towards the station.

We arrived back in Broadstairs just in time to catch the sun setting and reflecting on the sea bathing pool. We had such a great day.

We were going to go to a few pubs but after a drink in The Chapel we both realised how tired we were and called it a night.

So that was our trip down memory lane holiday and I have to say it di the pair of us the power of good. 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

A Good Sea – Fresh Breezes – Fine Sands – and Pleasant Walks.

 Hello and thank you for sticking with me despite many silent months. Let's just say life has been challenging, especially at work. On top of the insane workload I got a new line manager in January who shall we say turned out to not be so nice. My mental health suffered as a consequence, some days it was all I could do to just get up and get through it. I couldn't even muster the energy for my lunchtime walk, let alone do things like pilates or my shoulder exercises so yeah the waistline has expanded again and I'm definitely stiff and the shoulder less mobile...

However me deciding I needed to take myself in hand coincided with a long overdue holiday and a very welcome and completely unexpected shift around with the team (meaning I have been moved away from the not so nice team leader) and I finally feel like blogging again.

The post title is a quote from Charles Dickens about Broadstairs where we spent the week before Easter. Dickens loved Broadstairs and lived there at one time. There is a Dickens museum, Bleak House and various other shops, restaurants and pubs with themed names as well as the Dickens festival they hold here each year.

 Himself declared a while ago that he would like to go back to Thanet. Preferably staying in Broadstairs, somewhere we both love and he used to work, and do some of the fun things we used to do before his parents ill health made every visit duty or drama. I kept it in mind and found a fab deal on Travelzoo for 3 nights in a very nice B&B to use before March 2022. We decided to ring up and see if we could tack another night on, we could but there were no free weeks in March so I ended up paying an extra £8 to extend the voucher and chose the 1st free dates they had in April. These surprisingly turned out to be the week before Easter when I would have expected them to be busy? 

I had a bit of a problem booking and had to ring back 4 times, the owner was always too busy to speak to me before I finally rang and spoke to the other owner on my 4th attempt. He greeted me with "I don't usually do room bookings but as you've called a few times already I'll pop it in, I suppose you'd like a sea view?" to which I casually replied "Oh well yes if we can?, if there's one free?" and just like that we were booked in to a room with a balcony, a turret and a sea view! 

Now I knew the voucher deal clearly stated it was for a non sea view and so did the first owner who finally called me back only to be told we were all booked in, let's just say he did not sound too pleased and which is why presumably he doesn't usually let his partner loose on the bookings! 

Check in was at 4pm so we got up, had a leisurely breakfast before catching the train to London. We left in the rain but arrived to glorious sunshine. The B&B was up a hill overlooking the sea, and on arrival we were greeted by the owner's utterly adorable and very excitable 14 week old soft haired terrier pup Lula. Who then proceeded to climb all over us and pulled undone the laces on my walking boots 3 times in as many minutes. Check in took some time due to the enthusiastic canine welcome but eventually we escaped to our room right at the top of the house. It turns out room didn't have a turret, it was the turret! So both being tall, we spent the whole 4 days having to duck a lot but the sea view was lovely.

Sadly the balcony turned out to be a Juliet one, ie just bars across some double doors that opened into the room so no chance to sit out 

but it did give a welcome cool breeze as the turret room got very hot. Indeed the first thing we did once we had put our bags down and taken our coats off was open all the windows as the room was roasting.

Once we had done a cursory unpack we headed straight into town to walk along the clifftop promenade, calling in at Morelli's Broadstairs famous ice cream parlour on our way. The weather was so gorgeous we just kept going and  walked along the clifftop all the way to Ramsgate and back. 

We then got changed and ended up having a very disappointing dinner at Prezzo as we hadn't thought to book anywhere. From there Himself couldn't wait to show me a pub called The Chapel which he had visited with his friend the last time he was down visiting.

Now back in the day when we used to go for a mooch around Broadstairs for the day, Himself liked to call into the Albion bookshop, he properly loved it. As a librarian I used to hyperventilate just going through the door. Everything was in mad precarious piles and nothing, NOTHING was in order!! Even though there were headings for different sections everything was randomly shoved wherever there was a gap so nothing was where it should be. I'm practically coming out in hives just remembering it! 

Anyway I'm guessing the old guy who owned it either died or gave it up and it clearly got sold as a going concern. Someone very cleverly decided to turn it into a little pub clearing out some of the central bookshelves and putting in a bar and some tables downstairs but leaving the rest just as it was. They left the bookshelves round the walls upstairs and just put more tables between them.

The very dark picture is mine and the better lit one I've pinched off the internet so you can see it in all it's glory. The choice of beer, cider, spirits and wine was great and you could select random books from the shelves and read. We spent the rest of the evening there drinking and killing ourselves laughing  reading random excerpts to each other from such weighty tomes as the one below.

The next morning we were up early for breakfast. There had been some confussion as to whether we were going to get breakfast as the Travelzoo voucher said we did but the hotel said we didn't unless booked direct...Anyway I managed to sort that before we arrived so once breakfasted we headed out into another gloriously sunny day to mooch around the shops and see what was still there and what had changed. The old design shop Himself used to work in is now a chiropracters of all things.

  I was delighted to see Arrowsmiths was still there, it's a sort of gift emporium.The first time I ever visited my sister in Ramsgate we went for a browse and I got a t-shirt saying 'Away with the Fairies' from there. I have no idea what happened to it, I'd definitely still wear it now. The only time I can get Himself in a charity shop is when we are on holiday so I took full advantage and made him visit them all, and there are a lot, on our way to the train station.

Our destination for the day was Whitstable. Himself worked there for many years and I visited him there at the shop a few times as well as having a couple of nights out at The Neptune pub.

 Walking from the train station to the town centre you pass this amazing mural commemorating Peter Cushing who lived in Whitstable and adored it there. The local Wetherspoons is even named after him.

We spent a lovely few hours just mooching, again seeing what has changed and what hasn't. It was super busy but then it has been the chi-chi destination for all the DFLs (as the locals call them) for many years now. We browsed whatever shops took our fancy, then bought an ice cream and walked along the seashore which seems to be mostly owned by the local oyster company.

They have converted some of the single room beach/fishing huts into extremely bijou holiday lets. I dread to think how much they cost.

We were done by mid-afternoon so we headed back to Broadstairs and as the weather was so gorgeous found an outside table at The Pavillion. 

Is there anything better than drinking crisp cold wine or beer, sitting on a balcony over the beach looking at the sea? My worries were a million miles away that afternoon I can tell you, but as we had evening plans we couldn't stay all evening tempting as it was.

I was heading out to meet my friend Kay and Himself was catching up with his old boss. So we headed back to our room to freshen up and I caught the bus over to Ramsgate. I can't tell you how lovely it was to catch up with Kay, we have been friends for 30 year's now having met through a friend of my sister one night and just clicked. We only managed to grab a couple of hours when I was last down for Himself's Dad's funeral and otherwise it's been the odd email and letter here and there. Kay works in social care and for a mental health charity, and well, I'm sure you can imagine just how ridiculously busy she has been during the last couple of years. I genuinely do not know how she does what she does, I take my hat off to her. She truly is an incredible and beautiful soul. 

We had a wonderful catch up with dinner and more wine for me and gin for her, in the massive Wetherspoons in Ramsgate It's the biggest in the country and on the ground floor has doors that open right onto the beach. Sadly the time to head back came much to soon.Thankfully Himself met me at the bus stop in Broadstairs which was a good job really otherwise I'd still be trying to figure where I was now!

I'll share the rest of our holiday in my next post. Thank you again for staying with me.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

The Rest of 2021

 So where was I? November. 

November was an odd month, after more than 2 years at home I was back into work for two days a week. We were told one day would be an 'anchor day' when the whole team had to be in together and the other we could choose. Tuesday was the anchor day for our team so I chose either a Monday or Wednesday alongside it, as I figured I'd rather go in on consecutive days and kind of get it out of the way. 

We no longer have a desk, we have been told it's all about flexible working and hot desking. Which is fine for those travelling to work with a car, not so much so for those of us who walk, cycle or use public transport as you end up having to carry everything you might possibly need for the day. 

In my case that was laptop, charger, mouse, mousemat, work phone, own phone, notebooks, paper, pens and other stationary, 2 pairs of glasses, water bottle, tea mug, teabags, lunch, book. All that alongside my handbag. You get the picture! So we are now fighting to have a locker or set of drawers so we can leave things behind like when we used to have a desk.  

Other than that it was lovely to be back with the rest of the team around me, to be able to talk in person and all of that, but also strangely difficult to concentrate and actually get work done after so long working from home without people and phones and just general noise. The early start for the commute to Oxford was a shock to the system too, not going to lie.

For a bit of fun we had done a Great British Bake Off sweep stake.

We all put in £5 and got a contestant. The week after your contestant went out, you had to make or fake something for the theme of the week they were voted out. I had Amanda and went out on pastry week. So I made mince pies as well as apple or jam turnovers because not everyone likes mince pies, and chocolate whirls with the left over pastry. It was a bit more challenging for us all as like the show itself, one of our team is vegan so we all had to think of a way to make our bakes vegan friendly.

 Little did we know that by the time we got to my week that would be the end of us going into work again. Omicron reared it's ugly head and the University of Oxford was identified as a hot spot so that was us back to working from home again, and I have been ever since.   

Other than that I did a couple of fun things in November. I met Soo and our friend Melissa in Witney. I haven't seen Melissa for well over 2 years now. In fact we were due to have a day out on that very first Saturday of the 1st lockdown so it was long overdue. We had a fab day catching up on all the gossip (and boy was there some - another friend had eloped!) went to a craft fair, had a long lazy lunch and a little Christmas shopping got done too.

I also went to the cinema a couple of times with Himself. First to see Ghostbusters Afterlife which was amazing 

and later to see Spiderman No Way Home which I did not enjoy so much. It was horribly busy as we went on the first night and full of youngsters, hardly any of whom were wearing a mask. I was particularly edgy because I was well overdue for my booster jab, I just hadn't been able to get a slot booked.   

Thankfully we tested negative after that and I haven't been back to the cinema since.

I finally managed to get a booster jab booked for the 14th December at Boots in Oxford. I also finally managed to get another face to face physio appointment at the end of November. This time in the nearby town of Wallingford. I took the bus over and mooched about for a bit before walking to the community hospital where luckily for me and the bus timetable, the person before me had cancelled. That meant I got in early and therefore managed to get out in time for an earlier bus rather than having an hour to wait. The physiotherapist was pleased with my progress, he said I am 95% there, though he did also point out the last 5% is the hardest! I came away with some new exercises which he made me practice to  make sure I was doing them right and has put me on a 6 month retainer. So if I feel I'm not right, or it gets worse again in the next 6 months, I can book another appointment. Overall very good news.

On the 18th December I met Alex and Charlotte in Oxford to have a catch up and go to the Christmas market. Due to various reasons none of us were feeling particularly festive but I have to say by the end of the day we all starting to feel it a bit. 

I love this outtake picture, I think somebody walked up behind me?

We had lunch at the open food market in Gloucester Green before walking to Jericho and stopping at The Victoria pub for mulled wine and prosecco which may or may not have added to the festive spirit. The pub had an open fire, a real Christmas tree as well as loads of real pine swags, it smelt amazing. 

It was so lovely to see them both.  Alex was due to leave Birmingham that week and moved to Liverpool this week so I'm not sure when we will get together again - boo.

For Christmas the plan was to liberate Dad from his care home on the 24th and take him to my brother's house for a buffet. My sister in law Caron's parents were going to be there too, though sadly Nephew Number One was working so we dropped their presents off on the 21st. My Mum was then going to drive over on Christmas day to have lunch with my brother and his in laws and stay the night there, then on boxing day Himself and I were going to go home with her for a couple of days.

Unfortunately on the 22nd Caron tested positive so plans were cancelled. Thankfully we hadn't told Dad about it just in case, and luckily we were able to convert to a care home visit. Annoyingly the office hadn't let his floor know so the staff had got him all dressed up and told him about his visit. He was bewildered and really very upset when it didn't happen which was frankly bloody awful. I was so pissed off with yet another fuck up but let's not go there! And breathe.

Soo popped by for a couple of hours on Christmas eve to exchange pressies and have a quick catch up and Himself had a long zoom call with one of his oldest friends who due to restrictions was stuck in a hotel in Munich with just 4 other guests for company! 

So yes, Christmas plans changed and we ended up going over to Mum's on Christmas day at about 2pm and staying until the 27th. 

Before that we had a lie-in, followed by boiled eggs for breakfast, before cracking open some buck's fizz and opening our pressies. Mum had found a chicken in the freezer so when we got to hers we prepped the veg and opened more fizz and had chicken and roast veggies for Christmas lunch with trifle for pudding. I have to say we were all fine with that as none of us is actually a huge fan of turkey. 

We had a hugely lazy time, sleeping, reading, doing jigsaws and playing with Bobby the cat. He was actually surprisingly friendly this time round and even jumped onto the bed for cuddles by the second morning.  

We did go out for a couple of walks but as we got fed to within an inch of our lives I don't think they achieved much other than some fresh air.

I also crafted. I got given a kit to make 3 felt bauble decorations. Of course me being me, I bought more felt and made loads. In fact I'm still am making some as I cut out a load, I will admit I've loved it, coming up with my own designs has been fun .

As ever I got some fab presents.

can you tell I like Snoopy??

More books to add to the book mountain. 

Talking of books I'll finish with my Goodreads list of books read in 2021. As you can see there are a couple of sets. I reread A Discovery of Witches and then read the rest of the series. Charlotte had warned me they got worse and worse as the series progressed and sadly she wasn't wrong. The last one was dreadful.

The Nicola Upson ones were a set of 5 from my book club, I then bought the rest of the set. Weirdly I loved some of them and some were just 'meh'.

The Elly Griffiths books were due to me buying one for 50p in a charity shop, absolutely loving it and finding it was number seven in a series. So of course I had to buy the rest of the set! 

I loved them all and actually feel a bit bereft now I have finished them. 

Tombland- C J Sansom
The Peanuts Book – A visual history of the iconic comic strip –Simon Beecroft
The American Boy – Andrew Taylor
The Familiars – Stacey Halls
Grown Ups – Marian Keyes
The Corset – Laura Purcell
A Single Thread – Tracey Chevalier
The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah
Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle - Clare Hunter
A Year at the Chateau – Dick Strawbridge
The Natural Beauty of Cornwall - Peter Maxted
Birds of a Feather – Jacqueline Winspear
Art Deco Fashion – Gordon Kerr
The Secret History of the Handbag – Meredith Etherington-Smith
Liberty & Co in the Fifties and Sixties – Anne Buruma
Seeing Things: An Autobiography – Oliver Postgate
Amphibious Thing: The Life or Lord Hervey – Lucy Moore
Girl Balancing & Other Stories – Helen Dunmore
The Kid on Slapton Beach – Felicity Fair Thompson
It’s so Easy (and other lies) – Duff McKagan
How to be a Man – Duff Mckagan
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
Invisible Girl – Lisa Jewell
The Binding – Bridget Collins
The Guest List – Lucy Foley
The Ghost Fields - Elly Griffiths
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness
A Book of Life – Deborah Harkness
Eight Detectives – Alex Pavesi
The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
Times Convert – Deborah Harkness
A Expert in Murder – Nicola Upson
Angel with Two Faces – Nicola Upson
The Janus Stone – Elly Griffiths
Two for Sprrow – Nicola Upson
Fear of Sunlight – Nicola Upson
The Death of Lucy Kyte – Nicola Upson
London Rain – Nicola Upson
Nine Lessons – Nicola Upson
Sorry for the Dead – Nicola Upson
The House at Sea’s End – Elly Griffiths
Bandaging the Blitz – Phyll McDonald- Ross
A Room Full of Bones – Elly Griffiths
Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham – Emily Bingham
A Dying Fall – Elly Griffiths
The Mistress of Mayfair – Lindsey Spence
The Outcast Dead – Elly Griffiths
Surviving Tenko: The Story of Margot Turner – Penny Starns
The Woman in Blue – Elly Griffiths
The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe – Sarah Churchwell
The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths
The Dark Angel – Elly Griffiths
The Stone Circle – Elly Griffiths
The Lantern Men – Elly Griffiths
The Night Hawks – Elly Griffiths

Overall I read more books that I enjoyed this year and ranked lots of them 3 or 4 though surprisingly no 5's at all this year. I was clearly being tough this year.     

Monday, 29 November 2021

October - Days Out, Walks & The Beautiful People

 In my excitement writing about the Chelsea Flower show I completely forgot to mention I had my second face to face physio appointment towards the end of September, 2 months after the last with it's scary prognosis. Since then I had been doing my exercises like a crazy woman and it seemed that had paid off! 

Not only was my physiotherapist surprised with my progress she said there was definitely no need to refer me back to the fracture clinic for a procedure, which as you can imagine was fantastic news as far as I was concerned. She also told me she had resigned and would be leaving at the end of October. It seems even the staff are fed up with being forced to do at least 60% of their appointments as phone consultations. She did say if that policy changed she would probably come back. Unfortunately my next appointment was cancelled and then I had to wait for another slot, after 3 weeks of ringing on a Monday to find nothing was available I finally got one on the 24th November! I shan't go over again how farcical I have found all of this...

Anyway I left with a new set of (why do they have to be so painful) exercises feeling very positive.

I started October by going to see the new James Bond my first cinema trip since 2019. We deliberately waited a few weeks for the initial rush to die down, I didn't fancy going to a completely packed cinema on my first visit back. We were the only people to wear masks the whole time SIGH. I loved the film though, it was good to be back.

The following weekend I was off into Oxford to meet my friends Alex and Charlotte to celebrate Charlotte's birthday. We took a slow stroll down to the botanical gardens where we wandered about enjoying the Autumn colours before finding a bench in the sun and having a good catch up. From there we headed to Comptoir Libanais where we had a table booked for lunch, after which we had a browse around Blackwell's bookshop and the indoor market before heading for home. 

It was so lovely to see them both. I miss Alex not living in Oxford anymore, and I really miss not working with them both anymore.

Charlotte and I met again the following Wednesday to head up to London for my first live exhibition since 2019. It was certainly a month of firsts!

We chose The Fashion and Textile Museum's exhibition Beautiful People: The Boutique in 60's Counterculture and boy was it good to be back. We had timed entry and got there a bit early so had a mooch around the neighbouring streets until it was time to go in. It wasn't very busy and everyone was in masks so you felt quite comfortable browsing at leisure.

I won't share all my pictures but we had a great time. Charlotte's Mum was clearly quite the fashion plate and there were a couple of the Quant and Biba outfits or prints Charlotte recognised, she can remember her Mum taking her to Biba when she was tiny. 

For me it was more about recognising the styles. My Mum was a seamstress before she married my Dad so made all her own clothes, many from patterns she drafted herself from things she saw in magazines.   

I found myself attracted to several outfits that turned out to be made from either repurposed 1940's dresses like this red outfit

or based on a 1930's pattern like this green and black one, or the floral one below, or reusing genuine 1930's fabric like the jacket next to it.. 

I really do have my era lol.

I have to share this outfit which made me I gasp in recognition when I saw it. I have seen several times on a Friday evening when I tend to watch those compilation music shows on BBC4 like 'Glam Rock at the BBC' with a large glass of wine. It was donated by the lead singer of the New York Dolls and he wore it on the Old Grey Whistle Test to sing Jet Boy!

After we had had our fill of amazing outfits, we had a browse round the shop and I treated myself to a book, I'd rather buy it full price there where I know the money will go towards the museum itself than cheaper on Amazon or the like.

It's called The Dressmakers of Auschwitz and I really wanted to read it after listening to one of the Museum's fascinating online events given by the author Lucy Adlington. 

I know I've mentioned them before but do check out their website for their on demand events, they are amazing, cover so many different subjects and eras, and only cost £5. I've watched loads of them now and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

We headed to Borough Market for lunch and after we had filled out faces from some of the amazing food stalls we decided to walk along the Thames. We ended up keeping going all the way to Westminster trying to find somewhere to have a drink. We crossed Westminster bridge in the hope of something and finally ended up in the cafe in a branch of Waterstones. 

The day was a little marred when we got back to Padington and I was told by the chap at the information desk I couldn't get a train home until after 7.30pm due to my off peak ticket!?! I was told I could upgrade it and as I didn't fancy hanging around at Padington for 3 hours I duly queued up to upgrade. When I got to the counter I thought I would just check again and thankfully it turned out the information I had been given wasn't strictly true. I could in fact catch a slow train to Reading and then a train home from there - Phew. Luckily I had a good book with me so I bought a drink in M&S and hopped on the slow train. 

The next weekend as the weather was still mild Himself and I went for a long walk culminating in a large glass of wine for me and a pint for him sitting on a balcony over the Thames in the nearby town of Abingdon. We took a slightly different route this time and I was amazed to come out in a part of the town I didn't know walking alongside the river. I went to college in Abingdon many many moons ago and thought I knew the town well from all the times I was out and about instead of in lectures! 

We also did a Halloween trail in a nearby village which is always great fun, some of the residents really go all out with their decorations

I took Malcolm Monkey and his funeral director's hat with us

The month ended with our anniversary or nonniverary as I believe Vix called it (24 year's on we are also not married.) We went to Nephew Number One's house for drinks on the 30th which ended up being very late as well as a rum experimentation so our actual anniversary day was very low key.

I'll finish up this rather mammoth post with some purchases. I bought another new zip free dress, partly because it was zip free but mostly because I loved the fabric.

I also bought some Halloween brooches from Erstwider's two seasonal ranges.  


Sunday, 28 November 2021

The Month of September - Part Two

 September continued with me returning from holiday and meeting Soo in Oxford for a long overdue catch up. This saw us taking a walk along the canal tow path to Wolvercote, then managing to get slightly lost walking back across Port Meadow. I'd say this is itself was actually something of a feat considering it's basically a huge open space!

We also had the life scared out of us by an idiot on a mountain bike who decided to speed up behind and past us with no warning when there was a whole rest of the field to cycle on, including the actual pathway, which we weren't on at the time!

 Anyway once our heart rates had returned to normal we found our way back to Jericho in time to hunt for somewhere to eat. Which turned out to be surprisingly difficult given the number of eateries there are in Jericho! After finding several places were either closed or full we ended up at the Jude the Obscure. Where perched in their walled garden we caught up some more over a bottle of wine and in my case a very tasty three cheese toastie.  

My next adventure was The Chelsea Flower Show. 

Now this has been on my bucket list for years so I was very excited when Charlotte suggested we go 2 years ago. Of course covid happened and it was cancelled, then postponed before being rescheduled for September instead of the spring. I gather it wasn't as big this year, covid & brexit both having an effect so there were less show gardens and the marquee had lots of empty space. 

Not that that stopped the crowds, it was absolutely heaving when we were there. The weather was fabulous all week so pretty much everyone was floating around in floral frocks, both of us included. 

The first thing we saw on entering was a camera and a crowd of people round one of the gardens. It turned out to be Joe Swift doing some filming for Gardener's World.

In fact in terms of GW presenters you name them and we saw them at some point during the day. From James Wong and Frances Tophill  to Rachel de Thame, . Typically the only person I didn't see was my Mum's favourite Adam Frost!

Couldn't not have a picture of Monty. 

We browsed the show gardens first before doing the main marquee

After which we decided it was food time. They had a whole area dedicated to different food vans I plumped for a truffle and parmesan potato dish whilst Charlotte got an amazing vegan street food medley. This is where we encountered my main criticism, considering the amount of people allowed in, and the age of most of them, there were very very few places to sit. We ended up walking round eating which wasn't ideal and eventually just sat down on the pavement when we did need a rest.

My other disappointment was there were barely any plants for sale. I have since been told by a couple of people the Hampton Court Flower Show is better if you want to buy plants, and funnily enough Charlotte said she was told the same thing, so that one might have to be added to the bucket list. Which will be no hardship at even though it's been a few years since I was last there, it is definitely one of my Happy Places.

So what did I buy? Well absolutely nothing in the avenue of shopping stalls. They were all high end, money no object stores and not for me. I bought a sky blue perennial salvia from one of the few stands selling plants and 

this sort of Nordic metal squirrel, which is meant to hang up outside but is currently in the conservatory.

By this point we had seen everything we wanted too and were footsore, weary and very much in need of refreshment. We decamped to Peter Jones department store for a pot of tea and a sit down. I also made my purchase of the day in there.

 I spotted something as we went up the escalator which I went for a closer look at on the way back down and

I couldn't resist his face.

So yes I went to the Chelsea Flower show and came home with a cushion!